January 8, 2021

Friends and fellow disciples,

This has been a week unlike anything I have seen. I imagine it's the same for you, as we all struggle with the raw combination of anger, rage, shock, disbelief, and sadness. We confronted some painful realities about our nation this week, and there will surely be more to come. 

Wednesday was the day the church celebrated the feast of Epiphany, which remembers Magi's journey, following a star, to bring gifts to the Christ child. The word comes from the Greek and means "to appear," and is about the star appearing in the East, the wise ones seeing the revelation of God in Jesus, and all of us truly seeing what is real and true.

Much has been revealed this week. As we move towards worship on Sunday, let us pray that God will show us more fully who we are called to be. Join us for worship as we listen for God's Word in the powerful story of a king's fear and God's promise breaking into the world. Until then, pray with me the prayer below from the Rev. Dr. Jimmie Hawkins, our friend and colleague who served as the pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church here in Durham and is now the Director of the Presbyterian Office of Public Witness in Washington, DC. My prayers are with you and with our nation.

God of justice, love, and hope,

So many Americans, and people around the world, have hearts that are saddened and minds that are in shock.

This country has been an inspiration on people's right to self-governance, and yet on Wednesday, all of that fell apart. American democracy has been a model for numerous countries and changed the course of world history. But today democracy is under brutal attack and we are in danger of self-destruction and implosion from within.

Help us to come together as a nation and realize that any political and ideological differences are negligible and can be overcome. Lead us as only you can to live in acceptance of each other’s differences and united by our common allegiance to you and to nation. Help us to go forward with a new determination to learn from our mistakes, to overcome our divisions, and advance to being a better nation.

Please use the United States as an example of a country that is determined to become more compassionate, just, and democratic. A nation where justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. A nation determined to promote peaceful engagement for all people.


From the Rev. Jimmie Hawkins, director of the Presbyterian Office of Public Witness, Washington, DC
Last week we had a few visitors enjoying the church's new playfield :)
Westminster Weekly Quick Links 

Worship on January 10, Epiphany-Baptism of the Lord
All In-Person On-Campus Activities Suspended Until Further Notice

Due to recent guidance from the NC Health & Human Services department, we are pausing all in-person, on-campus activities until further notice. Sadly, this means that we must cancel Sunday’s previously scheduled Fellowship Hall tours, but everyone’s safety is our paramount concern. If you would like to still pick up a WPC branded facemask and a “Do-Love-Walk” sign for your yard, please send an email to westminster@wpcdurham.org, and our staff will make these items available for contactless pick-up. 
Join us for “MLK Day Your Way”
Invitation from the Neighborhood Missions Team

Happy New Year! As we turn the page on the most exceptional year many of us have probably ever experienced, we give thanks for our health, our friends and family, our church, and all that we have. We invite you to join us on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, January 18, to reflect on the past year and set a faithful intention for the one ahead.

Because of Covid-19, we won’t be able to follow the MLK Day model of past years, but we’ve come up with an alternative we hope you’ll find engaging. We’ve organized options for Westminster members to perform both virtually and “together/apart." The day will have a two-fold structure:  

  • In the morning, from 10:00-11:30am, members of WPC’s Racial Equity Team will lead a Virtual Teach-In. There will be a brief introduction to share the work they’ve done since August, then we’ll break into smaller groups to discuss Dr. King’s “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech, which he gave the day before he was assassinated. We invite you to read the text of the speech or listen to it on YouTube before participating. This teach-in is appropriate for anyone middle school-aged and older. A discussion group for the youth will be facilitated by Melinda Vaughn and Alex Stayer-Brewington. If the day is anything like the discussions the Racial Equity Team has had over the past five months, the time will fly by and leave you feeling thoughtful and empowered to help our community and nation heal. Please RSVP online to help with our planning.
  • In the afternoon, we invite all ages to participate in Westminster’s book drive with Book Harvest. Book Harvest is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting lifelong literacy and learning. Please donate new or gently used children’s books, and deliver them directly to Book Harvest, 2501 University Drive in Durham (across the street from Q-Shack) on the afternoon of January 18. Or, you may deliver books to the 2021 Dream Big Book Drive at Durham Central Park, between 12:00-4:00pm. Note that Book Harvest cannot accept books of a faith-based nature. They particularly appreciate books with diverse characters and have a wish list that can help you with your donations.
  • Also in the afternoon, you may create cards of encouragement for patients at Duke Hospital (a great project for families), or write letters to persons imprisoned for political dissent. View the address list and sample letters to help you get going. Please provide your own stationery and stamps. Handmade cards for hospital patients should be generic (due to privacy concerns) and may be dropped off in the plastic pick-up/drop-off bin outside the Mission Center. They will be delivered to the hospital by WPC’s own Geoff Vaughn.
  • Interested in participating in a project of your own choosing? We encourage this, as well! Be sure to take a photo on the day and email it to westminster@wpcdurham.org so we can share it with our church family. 

Thanks so much for your support and participation in a year that has demanded constant adaptation and flexibility. If you have any questions, please contact Anne Sherman, Elsa Woods, or Amy Hill. We look forward to seeing you virtually on January 18!
Aperture in January:  Edible Theology with Kendall Vanderslice, January 20, 7:00-8:15pm

This month we will explore the importance and spiritual blessing of eating, even though we must be apart. From the beginning of creation, God deemed that all creatures needed food to survive, yet gifted us with the ability to enjoy it with all our senses. When the community of faith comes together in sharing meals, whether around a kitchen table or the Communion Table, we believe that Jesus is with us in a very real way. We welcome special guest Kendall Vanderslice, a local baker and theologian, whose delicious bread graced many of our tables as part of the Love Feast.

At January’s Aperture with Kendall, we’ll discuss the importance of food in the narrative arc of the Gospel and how this impacts our eating today, including the ways it can inform our life together in community and as a church. Registrants will receive a simple, adaptable recipe ahead of time to prepare and enjoy a delicious shared food experience if they choose to do so.  
Bread and Pray, Any Day: A Breadmaking Workshop with Kendall Vanderslice – Friday, January 29, 6:30 - 8:30pm

Learn the basics of breadmaking while looking at the spiritual parallels woven into the process, too. Over the course of the workshop, you will learn how to bake bread as a form of prayer. Registrants will receive a recipe or if they choose, a kit with all the ingredients so they can prepare along with Kendall.   

Kendall Vanderslice is a baker and writer living in Durham. A graduate of Duke Divinity School, she is the author of We Will Feast: Rethinking Dinner, Worship, and the Community of God.
Explore the Gift of the Lord’s Supper with Your Family
Sunday, January 31, 9:45am

In this Z-Event for families with children in grades 1-4, we’ll talk about what Communion is all about, encouraging the whole family to respond in gratitude for this very special gift from God. Contact Marietta to receive the Zoom link.
Read, Reflect, and Discuss: Start Your Week with Meaningful Conversations on Mondays, 9:30-11:30am

You are invited to join the Monday Morning Bible Study group that meets via Zoom for a couple of upcoming book discussions. On January 11 and 25, the group will reflect on The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, a story that “reveals the traditions and turmoil of ancient womanhood” through the voice of Dinah, the daughter of the four wives of Jacob. The story “combines rich storytelling with a valuable achievement in modern fiction; a new view of biblical women’s society.” Please contact Marietta Wynands to receive the Zoom link.
(Note: No class on January 18, Martin Luther King Day.)
Men’s Book Group: New Study Begins This Month

Come on “out” without leaving the comfort of your home and join this men’s book discussion group! Beginning this month, this group will begin working its way through Caste by Isabel Wilkerson. In March, they'll pause and read, The Hope of Glory: Reflections on the Last Words of Jesus from the Cross by Jon Meacham before returning to finish Caste. Newcomers and “drop-ins” are always welcome! To learn more, connect with Rev. Chris or Mark Hill. Contact Marietta for the Zoom link.
2020 Year-End Contribution Statements

By January 22, year-end contribution statements will be emailed/mailed to you, depending on the delivery preference you have on file with WPC. If you need your statement sooner than that for your tax filing, please send a request to finance@wpcdurham.org, and the Finance team will send it to you earlier.